I’m not sure that I have ever seen this verse and surrounding story in quite this way. However, in a way that only the Holy Spirit can, this true story has recently been lifted from the Scriptures for my daily bread.
It comes near the end of a well-worn story for some. In my public speaking history, I have preached a few sermons from this passage. As well, this passage and verse have been supportive for many other pulpit messages.
The verse in question is located at John 8:11. The surrounding story for context’s sake is located in John 8:1-12.
In verse 10, Jesus has asked this woman who has been caught in adultery two quick questions: “Where are your accusers? Who has condemned you?” (my paraphrase). To which she can only reply, “No one, Lord.”
There’s no one left in the scene of this drama but her and Jesus (well, I assume John was close enough to hear, see, and mentally record this event).
Then she hears these beautiful words from Christ: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Only the woman who had been caught by others is spoken to here. The accusing voices of others have been dismissed with their guilt in their own hands. With convicted consciences, they fled the scene from the eldest to the youngest.
Do not make a wrong application here. This verse is not your moral and legalistic hard charge for self-willed self-righteousness. Rather, these tender Words of Jesus are spirit and life, producing His righteousness.
In these words, this woman received the grace that she had longed for that no one else could provide.
While her accusers could only charge her sin with the condemnation of death, Christ offers her life. They wanted her as an example of justice, while Christ displays the power of grace. By His actions and grace-filled words, the wounded sinner found pardon and did not have to die the death of a criminal (lawbreaker).
However, contained within her pardon is not only the absence of the penalty for her sins. By grace and truth, Jesus grants what no other man could give her: the power to leave her sinful life.
Herein is true Gospel-grace; it is freedom from the penalty of your sins and power to walk away from the sinful bondage that once held you.
If you have ever compared the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2 with Luke 4:18-19, then you probably noticed a slight difference. When Jesus stood and read in the synagogue, He stopped short of reading Isaiah’s complete prophecy. Did you notice what phrase is missing? Jesus did not proclaim anything about “the day of vengeance of our God” as He proclaimed the Magna Carta of the public ministry He was about to begin.
What’s up with that? Jesus would later take upon His own body the “vengeance” that belongs to us sinful lawbreakers. Your iniquity was laid upon Him. Vengeance is what Christ took upon His own body in His sufferings for us.
Therefore, in advance of His Cross-work and with compassion in His voice, Jesus offers grace and freedom to this one caught in the act. Such grace and freedom were the power that she desperately needed to walk away from the bondage which had held her.
For those still enslaved to the bondage of sin, I boldly share this with you. There is a better life for you. Through the grace of Jesus Christ, there is freedom. That’s what His Gospel is all about.
If you who would have been in the religious and self-righteous group of accusers, I boldly share this with you. There is a better way. Through the grace of Jesus Christ, there is freedom for you too. “Don’t hit hurting people with the message of God’s wrath like you’re some Bertha-Better-Than-You. Tell them the Good News first” (Dr. Ryan Jackson). Offer others the same grace and freedom that Christ has made available to you. That’s what His Gospel is all about.
Do you need this Gospel-grace and freedom for your life today? Who do you need to share this Gospel, grace, and freedom with today?